Monday, 26 December 2011

A Christmas Mass - EF come home!

Without any EF Mass within reasonable striking distance we hummed and hawed as to what we should do and, finally, with thoughts of the children as well as Almighty God, we opted for a local OF Mass.

I will not reveal the whereabouts of the church and, in all truth, the OF Mass was not as mind numbingly awful as I had feared.

Now please, bear in mind that I am not an expert on Mass in the Ordinary Form; it is almost one year since I last attended one and as I tend to stick my nose into my missal and plough on regardless, it is still a bit of a mystery to me.

On this occasion it was hard to cut myself off as we had two small children with us who, although beautifully behaved, demanded a certain amount of attention.
So I could not help but observe a few things.
Firstly, the new translation did not appear to make too great a difference; the Mass seemed formless and without a route of progression - just a series of prayers spouted forth on a fairly random basis.

The priest conducted proceedings from the steps at the foot of the altar, facing the congregation leaving the puritan style altar (unadorned by any flower or object) bare and stark.

He started his Christmas sermon by speaking about ET, the extra terrestrial, and how he was accepted, in all innocence by a group of children.

OK, we all know the rest but it conjured up unfortunate images in my mind and, I guess, in the minds of quite a few of those present - an alien with a pointy finger - not what I wished to reflect on.

At the Offertory, the priest did move to the altar and at Communion a dilemma was solved for us as he came to distibute the host on our side of the aisle.
He was, I think, a little taken aback when we all genuflected to receive by mouth but he recovered well.

The sole elderly altar server, dressed a la monk style, distributed on the other side and, flanking the both of them were two females (I am being charitable here) who dispensed the Precious Blood to those who wished to receive it. We did not receive.

Afterwards, there was a horrendous period of washing up when the two ladies consumed what was left in the chalices and then set to a polishing the vessels.

We left having fulfilled our Sunday obligation and actually feeling that we had, in some small way, made our presence at the Mass part of our fealty to the new born Christ child.

But I found the fact that there was a general lack of respect shown to the Body of Christ in the tabernacle (only a cursory bow and zero genuflections. throughout).
And during the Credo, only a few genuflected at the critical point.

Overall, it seemed sad that these people, and their priest, had somehow forgotten the context of what they were about. They had performed a public act of prayer, not in a ritualistic sense but rather as if they were enacting a necessary labour.

It reinforced my view that the two Masses are as different as chalk is to cheese or ET to Jesus Christ.


  1. Always look on the bright side. You could have been at St. Edmund's Church, Soton (Daily Mail website).

  2. I would agree that most parishes where I have attended the Ordinary Form Mass it has been dreary and lacking in mystery or reverence. But it is possible to celebrate the OF reverently: they do so three times a day at the Oxford Oratory.

    I think there is less room for manoeuvre in the Extraordinary Form, so the reverence is more 'built in', if you like. But if every priest heeded the Holy Father's comment that there is no room for creativity in the liturgy, then Ordinary Form Masses would start to recover rapidly from the years of irreverence.

  3. Oh my gosh! I just finished writing a post for my blog entitled "7 Reasons Why You Should Not Go To the TLM" (not posted yet). Your parting comment sums up what has become my experience: there is basically no comparing the two Masses.

  4. I am becoming more and more disillusioned with some of the antics that can happen at OF Masses.

    The thing that gets me the most, bar the lack of reverence towards Christ really present, are all the bizarre ministries that have evolved over the past 40 years and how politicised these functions have become.

    Hope you are having a joyful Christmas so far, and that you manage to find an EF Mass soon.


  5. Richard. The chatter in the pews. The lack of reverence. The lack of genuflecting. The Communion in the hands. The too few Confessions. The Communion in both kinds. The distribution by Eucharistic Monsters. It all breaks my heart.

  6. Sounds as different as chalk & cheese to compare that Mass to the EF at my parish.

  7. The chattering in the pews is what annoyed me at Mass.

  8. I attended all three Masses in Brighton. Fr Ray celebrated all the Masses ad orientem, a low Tridentine Mass, the other two were quite beautiful ordinary Masses, a gentle mixture of Latin and English, everything was reverent and prayerful, I came away exhilarated.

    Well worth the bill at the hotel.

  9. I am going to disagree. Well you've had eight 'yes' men, it's hardly a fair debate is it?

    I do hope Richard, that once having received Holy Comunion, you took your eyes off everybody else, just long enough to kneel and pray silently for a few moments, at least until Our Lord had been returned to the tabernacle. You did not mention, nor acknowledge His Presence once in your post. Why not? It was His birthday after all. If you came to my Birthday celebration and only complained about the guests, I would be very very upset.

    Another objection I would make with your own attendance at this less than suitable for you, (sorry Our Lord's) Mass, is that you seem to have spent all your time there with your mind set on nit picking, checking and congratulating your own party's behaviours, rather than worshipping.

    Perhaps conditions were less than preferred, but you haven't attended Mass yet, with yourself nailed to a Cross, nor watching your only child nailed to one. That please God, may never come, but it has for Our God and His Mother.

    So, next time you find yourself in such awful surroundings, reflect on that!

    Yours in the spirit of Christmas joy!

    Ros ;)

    PS I have found a hair clip thingy to keep my mantilla in place. I shall post a photograph of it in the near future.

  10. PS When speaking of your post not acknowledging Christ's presence, I was referring to Holy Communion, you did mention Baby Jesus. I meant His Actual Presence during Holy Communion, where you just boasted about you, and even how you ignored the Precious Blood.

    Sorry for any misunderstanding there. ;)

  11. To all - many thanks for your comments - Peace on Earth!

  12. Have to agree with Shadowlands, Richard but thanks for calling it the Ordinary Form rather than the disparaging and now out-of-date "Novus Ordo".

  13. PTP - try attending Mass with two small children. You take them through it step by step and you cannot help but observe what goes on around you. You are not praying yourself but you are helping infants to learn how to pray.
    As for boasting about kneeling for communion, what utter nonsense.
    Finally, when one receives the Host you receive both Body and Blood of Our Lord.

  14. Please believe me when I say that the Ordinary Form can be very reverent when it's done according to the rubrics. There were two deacons and five altar servers at our Christmas morning Mass, incense, plenty of genuflection and bows where required and an all-male sanctuary. As usual a number of people who received kneeling or genuflected before receiving. Mass in the vernacular is not inherently bad or irreverent.

  15. Anonymous - I agree totally but the two Masses are still poles apart in terms of difference.

  16. Sorry to use the anon tag,but it is the only way I can comment.Have to agree with the post.Also agree that the two Masses are different....very different.

  17. Good to hear from you Sandy. God bless.

  18. Aaaarghhh! This still drives me mental! The TEXTS, the TEXTS, the TEXTS!!!

    You can celebrate the "OF" as "reverently" as you like, wreath it in incense, trick it out in frills, lace, Latin and baroque gimcrackery to your heart's desire; it will still include a bare 10% of the ancient TEXTS - and that's only to speak of the propers!

    Lex orandi lex credendi! It's in the TEXTS, first and foremost (and yes, I mean the Latin "originals"), that your faith is being re-engineered!

    Stop trying to paint the thing up and just DUMP IT!!!

  19. Anagnostis - sorry to be dense but I'm not sure if you are agreeing with me or not. I am a TLM man through and through but faced with no options I elected to attend an OF Mass for the obvious reasons.
    I had not realised that I was 'painting it up'.
    A Happy and Holy New Year to you.

  20. Sorry Richard - I was reacting(or, rather, going off on one!) more to some of the comments than to your original post. I do agree with you that the two are chalk and cheese, but I get very frustrated when the chalkiness of the one and the cheesiness of the other are discussed only in terms of the rubrics, forgetting that the most major, fundamental differences are in the texts of the New Mass. Tricking up the new (a la Brompton Oratory) in order to make it look like the old is therefore absolutely and utterly worse than pointless.

    Catholics need to understand how radically different the propers in the two Missals are, and the real theological shift in the new (in which fewer than 10% of the traditional orations remain). That's without addressing the textual, theological impoverishments and falsification in the Ordinary of the Mass.

    The "Reform of the Reform" is a snare and a delusion. The Catholic Church cannot recover using the new texts.

  21. A very happy and blessed New Year to you too, and to your readers!